Disentangling the Personal and Partisan Incumbency Advantages: Evidence from Close Elections and Term Limits

Quarterly Journal of Political Science 9(4):501-531, 2014

31 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2012 Last revised: 19 Feb 2016

See all articles by Anthony Fowler

Anthony Fowler

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy

Andrew Hall

Stanford University

Date Written: 2014

Abstract

Although the scholarly literature on incumbency advantages focuses on personal advantages, the partisan incumbency advantage — the electoral benefit accruing to non-incumbent candidates by virtue of being from the incumbent party — is also an important electoral factor. Understanding this phenomenon is important for evaluating the role of parties vs. individuals in U.S. elections and the incentives of incumbents and their parties in the legislature, among other things. In this paper, we define the partisan incumbency advantage, explain its possible role in elections, and show how it confounds previous estimates of the personal incumbency advantage. We then exploit close elections in conjunction with term limits in U.S. state legislatures to separately estimate the personal and partisan incumbency advantages. The personal advantage is perhaps larger than previously thought, and the partisan advantage is indistinguishable from zero and possibly negative.

Suggested Citation

Fowler, Anthony and Hall, Andrew, Disentangling the Personal and Partisan Incumbency Advantages: Evidence from Close Elections and Term Limits (2014). Quarterly Journal of Political Science 9(4):501-531, 2014. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2120743 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2120743

Anthony Fowler

University of Chicago - Harris Public Policy ( email )

1155 East 60th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Andrew Hall (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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